All These Things I’ve Done – Book Review

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Finished reading

All These Things I’ve Done

(Birthright #1)

by Gabrielle Zevin

★★★

Expectation

I’ve had this book for years. I got it as a gift quite a while ago. I liked the YA futuristic approach but never thought about this book as a part of a series I would like to read some day. It was only a book I became interested in after I read another book by the same author – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I loved the bookish components of that book and it’s plot. – the main character is a quirky book store owner and each chapter had a sort of review of a short story by a different author. I love short stories and I thought it was beautifully written book. The way it was written spoke to me about authors passion toward books and stories and I loved it! The reason I picked up this book to read was that it fit to my Summer reading challenge 2019.

You can check out my review on The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry HERE.

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Summary

All These Things I’ve Done is first book of the Birthright trilogy. It is a young adult sort of dystopian story of a sixteen year old daughter of a “crime lord” family that is in the business of producing and dealing chocolate. The story is set in a 2083 New York with a bleak setting of a world where chocolate is illegal but the alcohol is not! Main character Anya or Annie is going to a private high school and describes herself as a good catholic girl. Both of her parents are dead, her guardian is a grandma that is practically on her deathbed, her older brother is suffering from brain injury from an accident her mother died in and her younger sister is a naive romantic plagued with nightmares after witnessing her fathers death. This story is so full of angst and the title refers to all the things Anya does while she takes care of her family.

Seattle: Theo Chocolate Factory Tour

In Anya’s world chocolate and coffee are illegal and are described as a drug inducing elements. These are not the only things that make Anya’s world depressing – the plants, animals are scarce, museums and historical locations are sold and turned into clubs and bars, information and communication is heavily taxed and water is billed my literal drops which makes showers rare commodity.

The characters are extremely likable – even the villainous ones!

Story is written from Anya’s point of view and she often talks from narrators perspective to the reader with sarcastic remarks. Her Daddy quotes provide a long list of wise sayings and witty remarks I loved reading and I even had to write some for future contemplation.

“Daddy used to say that calling a person a romantic was just another way of saying he or she acted without regard for conseqences.”

“Tragedy is when someone ends up dead. Everything else is just a bump in the road. For the record, that was something Daddy used to say.”

“It’s a weakness to apologize before hearing what the other person’s grievances are. You don’t want to end up creating new grievances where there were none to begin with. Another Daddy-ism, if you hadn’t already guessed.”

“Daddy always said that an option that you know to have a bad outcome is only a fool’s option, i.e., not an option at all. And I liked to think that Daddy hadn’t raised a fool.”

Conclusion

I have no idea where I’m going to find next two books from this series but I consider them definitely worth my reading time. At times the plot reminded me of being invested in a Spanish soap opera with lots of characters who scheme all the time and tragic underdog heroes with religion as a prominent guide to favorable outcome. The religious point would normally annoy me but for some reason it fit to the characters and the story nicely. The drama, tragedy and angst made this book a riveting read and completely surprised me with intricate plots and enigmatic character motivation.

birthright

The Marriage Wager – Book Review

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Finished reading

The Marriage Wager

by Jane Ashford

★★★★

 

Expectation

First of all I have to adress the state of a cover picture. The book was published over twenty years ago. This first cover with a ambiguous dark haired character holding a hand of cards at the gambling table is much more accurate to the story than the pinkish disaster where two fair headed people show much skin while they are embracing. While the main female character of the story is indeed fair headed, the male character is not. I don’t know why I get so agitated by these visual details but I do.

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Summary

When I started this book I wanted some romantic historical story with quite possible some steamy parts in between. What I got had me surprised more times trough the book. The book opens with intrigue that leaves the author with plethora of plot twist options. Both characters seem to have a murky past. While the actual marriage wager of the book is settled quite fast there was another aspect of this book that caught me by surprise.

Trough most of the book characters are put into a position where care and understanding are the only thing that can lead them to prosperity. Both characters are scared by their pasts and get caught up in the healing power of love. I kept getting surprised from the constant sacrificing acts they do for each other but without each other actually knowing about it.

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There were parts of this book when I thought that the author has made a story for couples who need marriage counseling. At times this book felt like a step by step example what happens with good intentions and not enough communication. The themes were strangely universal and easy to understand.

Conclusion

I expected a nice romantic historical drama. I got more drama than I expected but it was worth it. The amount of times I wanted to scream at something the main characters did was surprisingly low. I enjoyed this book even though it had way more intrigue than steamy moments.

 

Outlander – Review

After more than a month of trudging trough it I finally finished Outlander (Outlander series book 1 ) by Diana Gabaldon

1322638297Outlandertpb3wideWith almost 800 pages this book has it all. Action, drama, romance, fantasy elements, historical tidbits and erotic tidbits, swoon worthy male character and female characters with fire and inteligence.

For years I have heard lots of nice things about this series and my expectations were met. What prompted me to finally take the time and read it was the TV series which came out summer 2014. I wanted to read the books before the show!

First book was written in 1991 and in more than 20 years there are only 8 books and 11 novellas in it – 8 novellas are Lord John series. All books are nice and sturdy brick like features that promise a full historical saga experience.

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For those who are interested here is a list chronology:

1) OUTLANDER
2) DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
3) VOYAGER
3.1) Lord John and the Hellfire Club (novella)
3.2) Lord John and the Private Matter (novel)
3.3) Lord John and the Succubus (novella)
3.4) Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
3.5) Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (novella)
3.6) Lord John and the Custom of the Army (novella)
3.7) The Scottish Prisoner (a Lord John novel)
3.8) Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (novella in the anthology titled “Down These Strange Streets”)
4) DRUMS OF AUTUMN
4.1) The Outlandish Companion (a non-fiction guide to the OUTLANDER world and covers big books 1-4. )
5) THE FIERY CROSS
6) A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES
7) AN ECHO IN THE BONE
7.1) A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows
7.2) The Space Between
7.3) Virgins ( novella from an anthology titled “Dangerous Women” )
8) WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD

“Lord John and the Hand of Devils” is a collection that contains: Lord John and the Hellfire Club, Lord John and the Succubus and Lord John and the Haunted Soldier

*ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG!*

Text below contains spoilers and my personal experience on the first book and first eight episodes of the TV series.

You have been warned.

kilt dropThere are many things I loved about this book and then there are some that just did not sit well with me at all. The concept of time travel is a complicate one to write and even more so when the author wants to be taken seriously. On this part Diana Gabaldon has done a really good job. There are many intricate historical details in the books. One of the main topics in the books is Jacobite rebellion. What was even more impressing the air date of the first half season (8 episodes) coincided with a Scottish referendum on the question are they going to stay as a part of Great Britain or seek political independence.

I love the drama and the romance part of the book. Jamie Fraser is a very interesting character and makes for an excellent book boyfriend. Jamie turns out as an educated highlander that speaks several languages fluently, wields a bastard sword proficiently, is devoted as a puppy, has impressive sexual stamina and then some!

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For those who do not know what this picture is about he is saying the motto of his clan. Motto of the clan Fraser means “I am ready”

Another thing I loved about this book are some girl power details – as I like to call them. The little things here and there that testify on how awesome and powerful women really are. For example there is Jamie’s sister Jenny  and a scene in which she, about a week after giving birth, rides out with Claire to track down which way English dragoons have taken Jamie. Some of the details are described in a way that makes you wonder on the fact that history is mostly written by men and role of a woman is mostly reduced to wife and a mother at best.

There are things that bothered me more in the TV series than in the books. One of those was a character of Jack Randall – Black Jack. The whole concept of this character is kinda strange for me: him being an ancestor of Frank – the man she leaves behind. The scenes in the TV series were much more intense than those in the books. In the TV version he kinda scares me. In the books I must have viewed him trough the narration of Claire and that made him less frightening.

One other thing that is bothering me is when Claire decides to stay with Jamie in the past. For first third of the book she is thorn between one husband and the other. I must admit that her denial and thoughts on both of them annoyed me a bit. And when she finally made up her mind I didn’t like how lightly she betrayed Frank – especially if we consider how in the years they have been married and estranged, she was faithful and loyal to him. Suddenly there’s this redheaded highlander that sweeps her of her feet and she falls madly in love with him. I don’t know what would have made it better for me but the decision just did not sit well with me at all. Maybe I was influenced by TV show here. The scenes where they show Frank desperately searching for Claire after she disappears were heavy with emotion and made an impact on me. Through the whole first book Frank is only mentioned at the beginning and that makes the world of difference I guess.

Steamy scenes were nice to read and watch!

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The rape talk and explanation did not bother me as much I thought they would. Black Jack is a real sadist and all the drama, passion and pain give him more dimensions as a character. Graphic violence in the TV series was much more intense and I’m actually scared what they will come up with to surprise those who read the books.

I’m mostly wondering the audience reaction when Jamie spanks Claire silly!

I’m still thinking on giving a next book in the series a go. The first one was all consuming.

JULY BOOK A DAY – JULY 24

JULY 24.

 

24) A book that reminds you of an English teacher

Abstinence Teacher
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

The reason this book reminds me of my high school English teacher is the similarities I see between her and the main character of this book. Both are very caring in what they do and think of well being of others a great deal.

This is what I like to refer as a *vanilla book*. By that I mean a contemporary real life based book – no supernatural, no kinky business – ALL PLAIN STUFF THAT CAN HAPPEN TO ANY OF US AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVES.

Main character of the book is Ruth Ramsey who is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents. This book illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.

It also touches to some issues that I figured I feel rather strongly about.

I will not start on the issues I have with organized religion for the sake of ones who might stumble on my blog and read it – it would be a frustrated rant filled with negative comments.

I think the author did a fine job at writing about this topic.